These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Now firmly established in France and the French way of life, Laye turns his attentions back toward his youth in French New Guinea where his father and mother were participants in a native culture that celebrating nature and the animals. In fact, he remembers his parents as spiritualists. His father of the Malinke tribe felt inspired by the spirit of the blake snake to craft golden ornaments in his blacksmithing practice. His mother is from the tribe of the crocodile, so when she goes to the croc-infested waters to retrieve their daily water, she is not scared and they do not bother her.
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The Dark Child by Camara Laye ,. Ernest Jones Translator. James Kirkup Translator. Philippe Thoby-Marcellin Introduction. Long regarded Africa's preeminent Francophone novelist, Laye herein marvels over his mother's supernatural powers, his father's distinction as the village goldsmith, and his own passage into manhood, which is marked by animistic beliefs and bloody ri The Dark Child is a distinct and graceful memoir of Camara Laye's youth in the village of Koroussa, French Guinea.
Long regarded Africa's preeminent Francophone novelist, Laye herein marvels over his mother's supernatural powers, his father's distinction as the village goldsmith, and his own passage into manhood, which is marked by animistic beliefs and bloody rituals of primeval origin.
Eventually, he must choose between this unique place and the academic success that lures him to distant cities. More than autobiography of one boy, this is the universal story of sacred traditions struggling against the encroachment of a modern world. A passionate and deeply affecting record, The Dark Child is a classic of African literature.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 1st by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. More Details Original Title. Prix Charles Veillon. Other Editions Friend Reviews.
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He wrote in French, the language of colonial Guinea. See 1 question about The Dark Child…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Dark Child. Oct 14, Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it Shelves: african-authors , africa , autobiography. This is a classic of African literature from The boy grows up relatively well off in his village because his father is a blacksmith and goldsmith.
We learn about traditional customs endangered by modernizati This is a classic of African literature from We learn about traditional customs endangered by modernization. When a woman comes to have a gold brooch made from gold dust she has panned from the river, she brings along a man who plays a harp and sings the praises of the smith before they negotiate the deal.
His father has apprentices who live in their house and the boy befriends some and learns from them. Meanwhile he is bullied, even terrorized, by older boys at school. He goes to a neighboring village to live with his grandmother in the summer and he compares rural and village life. The author emphasizes the dignity of rural people.
A major event of his life is circumcision, a long elaborate ritual with six weeks of recovery. Of course the boy is terrified. The boy goes to Conakry, the big city and capital, to attend a technical school.
He lives with an uncle's family and experiences his first love and the death of one of his best friends. He does so well at school that he receives a scholarship to go to college in Paris. Despite all his reassurances, his mother is devastated at what she knows will be his eventual loss to her. The author wrote a couple of other novels and he did return to West Africa in his late twenties to work in government positions in Guinea and some neighboring countries.
However he eventually got into political trouble in his home country and was not able to return. It's a very readable book with a good story and again, an autobiography, not a novel.
Photo of Conakry from worldatlas. View all 4 comments. This one stands out as unique, mostly because it is so unremarkable. The only bloody scenes are those describing ritual circumcision, and even these showed a communal event of initiation and coming-of-age rather than an act of brutality as in other books that address the subject.
Injustice in society never came forward as a theme. Yet perhaps in the s, even a peaceful and unassuming literary description of African existence was an act of courage. View 2 comments. This is a fairly short and simple autobiographical account of a boy growing up in Guinea in the s and 40s.
Camara Laye wrote it in while studying in France, and you can feel the nostalgia for his homeland. At the start, his entire world is the ver This is a fairly short and simple autobiographical account of a boy growing up in Guinea in the s and 40s. Then it gradually expands to the rest of the concession, then to school, the town of Kourassa, then the wider country of Guinea when he goes off to study in the capital Conakry. Finally the link with childhood is severed altogether as he gets on a plane to France.
The mixture of pain and excitement at each stage of growing up is beautifully rendered. He wants to be part of his family, to follow his father as a blacksmith or his uncle as a farmer, but always knows that his success in school is moving him further away from that.
He is being marked out for a different future, his family are sacrificing to give him something better, and he wants that, but also wants to stay where he is. His parents, too, are caught in this conflict of wanting him to succeed but knowing that his success means his departure from their lives. Quite a bit of time is spent describing the circumcision rite, which may be of anthropological interest to some, but was for me more interesting as a symbol of the other changes he goes through in the book, the pain and fear at something new, the loss of the old, but also the anticipation of being a man, the pride he feels when he is given his own hut and his own grown-up clothes.
My copy is from , and made me realise a couple of things. The second thing I realised is that I need to start buying hardbacks — this paperback literally crumbled in my hands as I read it.
Does anyone else have very old paperbacks 60s or earlier? Do they last? Anyway, I enjoyed this book as an insight into a life at a moment of great change, starting in a very traditional setting and moving very quickly into different worlds. I found it interesting and quite moving.
There seems to be some disagreement about whether The Dark Child is a memoir or an autobiographical novel; my library shelves it as nonfiction, though given the abundant dialogue, the author clearly took some creative license. Later chapters are spent on harvest and coming-of-age rituals. Only toward the end does Laye leave the village to study. A solid 3. First book I've read entirely in French, which I'm pretty proud of.
It was an easy enough read for someone with years of language experience. I used several chapters of this book in my 4AP French classes. I have read the book many times. The book has an outlook which is unique. Camara Laye has a foot in two worlds. We see him as a boy in the villages of his father and grandmother.
He opens a window for us into a world where spirits reside in every living thing and where a snake can speak and share knowledge with the leader of a clan. He also shows us his introduction to European science-based culture.
And even though the two worlds see I used several chapters of this book in my 4AP French classes. And even though the two worlds seem to be mutually exclusive, he does not invalidate one at the expense of the other. I found it to be thought-provoking.
The book allows the reader to question almost all of the givens in the knowledge bank he or she has acquired from Western civilization.
The Dark Child (The African Child) Background
The African Child was published in and it is an autobiographical novel written by Camara Laye. The novel centres on the Malinke tribe of French Guinea which is characterised by superstitions that influence the ways of the members of the community. Camara writes about his academic journey from the local Koranic and French elementary schools to Paris where he goes on scholarship to study mechanics. While in France, he feels lonely and alienated as a result of exposure to a different culture and he gets inspired to write about the Malinke culture, his childhood experiences, challenges and achievements. As a young boy in Kouroussa, Camara is exposed to the mysteries of his tribe like the guiding spirit in form of a snake which guides his father to prophesy and make trinkets out of gold.
The Dark Child
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BOOK REVIEW: The African Child
The African Child is not strictly speaking a novel, but rather an autobiography of a young teenage boy called Camara Laye. His father is the local blacksmith. His mother is a housewife. Their house is crowded with extended family and blacksmith apprentices that live with them.